How to Install Cabinet Hinges

Cabinet hinges come in various types that connect to the cabinet door in different ways. However, the basic principle of installing a cabinet door hinge remains the same despite the different styles. So once you understand the general principle of attaching a cabinet hinge to a cabinet door, then you can easily apply your knowledge to installing different types of hinges to a cabinet so that the door fits properly into the opening.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
  • 4-foot level
  • Eraser
  • 2-foot level

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Check the cabinets to see that they are properly installed and level.

Examine the hinges and door to see if the two items are a good match. Most commonly the cabinet door will cover the opening for the door and it will be flush against the face of the cabinet when it is in the closed position.

Align the cabinet doors (this step only applies if there is more than one door) so that they are at equal height. This means that all the doors should form a straight line across the face of the cabinet. This is done by attaching the top hinge of each door at the exact same distance from the top of the cabinet door. Go ahead and choose your distance (we will pick 3 inches as an arbitrary distance) and attach the hinge to the door. Do this one screw at a time and use a pilot bit to drill a hole. Finally, each screw can be put into place with a screwdriver or an electric screw gun.

Attach the bottom hinge to each cabinet door. The distance from the bottom of the hinge to the bottom of the cabinet door has to be the same distance (3 inches in our case) as the top hinge is situated from the top of the door. Do this one screw at a time and use a pilot bit to drill a hole. Finally, each screw can be put into place with a screwdriver or an electric screw gun.

Locate exactly where you want the first door to be. This includes vertical as well as horizontal positioning. Once you have determined the location of the door you need to determine the exact location of the first screw. Locate this spot on the face of the cabinet with a pencil. Make an “X” mark.

Make a horizontal line across the face of the cabinets that runs right through the “X” mark. Make this line with a 4-foot level and a pencil and make sure the line is dead level.

Make a vertical line through the “X” mark and make sure this line is perfectly plumb. Again use your level. If you have a 2-foot level that will be better to use in this situation.

Mark where the other doors go along the horizontal line. That is easy to calculate. Just measure the distance of your “X” mark from the actual opening of each cabinet. And then repeat that distance for each door. At each mark you will want to scribe a perfectly plumb vertical line with a 2-foot level and a pencil.

Have a helper hold the door in place while you mark the location of the top screw of the upper hinge for the door. This screw will go through the part of the hinge that attaches directly to the cabinet. (It will also go directly into the “X” mark that you made in Step 5.) Proceed one door at a time. Go ahead and drill a pilot hole and then set the screw with a screwdriver.

Repeat Step 9 for the top screw in the lower hinge. Now you have a cabinet door that is attached to the face of the cabinet by only two screws. That should be enough to temporarily hold it in place while you check out how the door opens and closes. If everything appears functional go ahead to the next step.

Mark the rest of the screw holes. Then drill a pilot hole and finally you can set the screw in place.

Repeat Steps 9 through 11 for each cabinet door.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure all pencil marks are made very lightly so that they can be easily erased. The distance that the hinges are placed from the top and the bottom of each cabinet door should not vary, even though the size of the doors may not be the same.
  • Make sure the cabinets are properly and securely installed.
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